Shiatsu is a Japanese method of “finger pressure” therapy that is based on the theories and practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).
It is often referred to as acupressure or “acupuncture without needles”, because the practitioner uses all of the energy channels (“meridians”) and specific points involved in acupuncture, but without using needles. Instead, various forms of pressure (by thumb, fingers or palm) are applied to the meridians and/or specific points. Energy flows through the body along energy pathways, called “meridians”. Each meridian is related to a major organ and various bodily systems. If the meridian becomes damaged, either by accident, birth or just general wear and tear, the energy flow will become weak or non-existent, leading to muscle deterioration, lameness, or an array of other health issues.
Poor energy flow can lead to emotional problems as well, such as low self-esteem, depression or lack of communication. The animal may resist handling, despite their companion’s best efforts, which can lead to frustration and exhaustion on the part of the person as well, eventually leading to a negative cycle that is hard to break.
By stimulating points along the various meridians, the practitioner activates the body’s “chi” – life energy. Areas that are blocked with too much “chi” are broken up, and the excess energy can then be drawn to areas that are lacking “chi”, thus balancing the overall energy flow in the body. Most animals respond remarkably well to Shiatsu. In fact, the energy pathways (meridians) of the horse have been detailed in charts that date back 2000 years! In cases where animals do not enjoy the point massage/pressure, a laser may also be used to stimulate points. This method is quite useful with finicky cats!
The energy flow is repaired by stimulating the body’s natural ability to heal, gently stretching the meridian lines, pressing or otherise stimulating the energy points and helping the animal to be more aware of its body. A good animal shiatsu practitioner will always instruct the animal’s person on how to use the techniques at home. Not only does this speed up the healing process, but it helps to enhance and strengthen the emotional bond between animal and person.